“Never underestimate the difference one person can make in the world. Every purchase matters.”
In a continuing project to feature fair trade lifestyle voices in our online community, I’m here to share with you the delightful person that is Lisa of @purpose_dignity_fairtrade. It has been wonderful to talk with her, and hear the insights she has into current issues and her part to play in changing the world.
I found Lisa on Instagram, where she is making a difference by showcasing her various ethically-sourced daily outfits to prove that the fair trade and sustainable lifestyle is one not only worth living, but is also completely feasible. Her intentionality in specifying where each article of clothing comes from, and her continuous message of empowering people is sure to make an impact on those unaware of the dangerous conditions of the fashion industry, and also be an encouragement for those already passionate about the same issues.
Let’s hear what she has to say!
Would you introduce yourself for us?
Hello! I’m Lisa and I live in the warm state of New Mexico with my husband and my two teenage boys.
How and when did you get started on your fair trade journey?
I first started on my fair-trade journey back in 2014 when a friend on Facebook liked a blog post and I was able to see her thumbs up. I then started following that blog online.
Kristen Welch from “We are THAT Family” shared her blog and I enjoyed her honesty and her insights about raising kids. During one of her posts, she shared about a missions trip that she took a few years prior and how that trip had opened her eyes to the living conditions for young girls in Kenya.
Kristen has a heart for young teen moms and for promoting fair trade and ethical job creation. She shared about her non-profit Mercy House Global and her subscription club called “Fair Trade Friday.” I was intrigued and signed up for the bracelet of the month. Through that club I began to learn more about fair trade and the many artisan
groups that provide job creation to artisans all over the world. Soon after, I watched a documentary entitled “The True Cost” and that movie really ignited my passion for changing my shopping habits and learning more about how to empower others through fair trade jobs and education opportunities.
So many of the fair-trade groups I have come to follow, and support were all first learned about through Mercy House Global.
In your Instagram handle (@purpose_dignity_fairtrade) Why did you choose the words “purpose” and “dignity” to represent your mission? How do you define those two words?
I chose those words because they convey my heart's mission and belief. Everyone wants to find their purpose in this life and have a reason to get up in the morning.
It doesn’t matter if a person was born in the USA or in the slums of India, we all need a mission and goal in our lives.
“It doesn’t matter if a person was born in the USA or in the slums of India, we all need a mission and goal in our lives.…It should not matter whether a person is a CEO or a floor worker, both need to be treated ethically and with respect.”
With that word “purpose” I also chose dignity, and dignity is defined as, “The quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.” (American Heritage Dictionary)
I believe that all people should be treated with dignity, especially in their workplace and home. Regarding the workplace, everyone should have a safe place to earn a living.
Treating others with dignity and respect means they are paid a living wage for their time and talents. It should not matter whether a person is a CEO or a floor worker, both need to be treated ethically and with respect.
I chose these two words because they struck a chord in me.
Purpose and dignity are what I wish for my sons as they go out into the world.
How do you answer someone who asks “is it all worth it?”
The more I have learned about fair trade, and the artisans behind everything I wear and use, the more I am spurred on to keep sharing and talking about the people behind our clothes and accessories.
There are times when I feel like I keep sharing and talking about ethical purchasing and people just aren’t listening, but I won’t stop.
Even if just one person out of 50 shows an interest, that’s still one person. And that one person can tell others and the word will spread.
Never underestimate the difference one person can make in the world.
Every purchase matters.
To the artisan you have paid for another meal, clothes for their kids to go to school, another deposit into their account so they can buy a house and get their family out of the slums. A single purchase can bring income to a woman who has escaped trafficking and is now employed and far less likely to be trafficked again.
I will say it again, every purchase matters.
What is your go-to ethically sourced outfit, and why?
On the days when I don’t know what to wear and just need something to grab and go, I reach for a graphic tee from Goex Apparel, a kimono from Sseko designs or Village Artisan, some jeans, my perfectly broken-in Lee boots from The Root Collective, jewelry from Starfish Project, and a swipe of tangerine Zambeezi lip balm. Then I’m good to go and I always get at least one person who comments on some piece of my outfit!
I want to be comfortable, but I also want my clothes and accessories to spark a conversation.
How has your identity as “Child of the King” changed the way you shop and live?
Jesus came for the lost, the broken, the forgotten and the outcasts. I believe and have a faith in Christ that if I was born with advantages and opportunities that others do not have, I should use those advantages to elevate and amplify others who may have been pushed aside. I am a Child of the King and I want to live and serve like Jesus would: by empowering others as I’m able, by choosing to shop and buy local or ethically when I can, and to listen to the stories of others so I can pass them on.
What are your hopes for and thoughts on the future of sustainability and fair trade?
My fair-trade journey has grown over the years, along with my passion and dedication to empower artisans around the world. I have watched as more and more people choose to shop fair trade and secondhand. I am encouraged to see how the word and the mission of fair trade is spreading and wearing ethically made clothing is no longer seen as a one-note choice. If someone wants to buy a business suit that is fair trade, it is out there. Looking for a nice basic tee? There are many companies selling them that provide living wages to their workers. Jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts and even partywear are now all available where the maker was paid and treated like a person who has dignity and purpose. I believe we are headed in the right direction of sustainability and fair trade. Do we still have a long way to go in some areas? Yes. But I see how social media is being used to call out companies who are green-washing and pretending to care about their workers. The shift may be slow, but progress is being made.
How do you hope to continue and grow your influence in your community?
There are times when I feel as if I am just one small voice in a loud and chaotic world, but then I will see a kind comment on one of my Instagram posts, or someone will compliment me on my shoes and when I give them the name of the company, they will ask more questions. I have unspoken dreams about what I hope to accomplish someday, but even if those dreams don’t come to pass, I know that I have reached some people and those people can go out and spread the word to others. I want to continue to share about fair trade and sustainable options to people not just in my immediate hometown but also on social media as well. Mother Teresa said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
“Every purchase matters, and every voice matters when we all work together to lift others up.”
Want to make a difference with how you shop? Take a look at some of the resources that helped Lisa begin her fair trade journey!
Kristen Welch: https://wearethatfamily.com/
Mercy House Global: https://shop.mercyhouseglobal.org/
Fair Trade Friday: https://www.fairtradefriday.club/
The True Cost film: https://truecostmovie.com/
Check out @purpose_dignity_fairtrade on Instagram!